So was this the first sign of the end of the Mullen era?
Mississippi State won the homecoming game against the Bowling Green Falcons technically, but if you watched the game, you know that there aren’t any real positives to take away from this game. After a heartbreaking loss to LSU, an overmatched opponent comes to Davis Wade Stadium and almost comes out with a win. Here is what you need to know about this contest:
The Good Things
The final score: Mississippi State 21, Bowling Green 20
Rushing stats: 41 carries, 245 yards, 3 TD (Leader: Prescott 15 carries, 139 yards 2 TD)
We ran the ball pretty effectively against the Falcons, especially on the first play from the third drive of the game. Prescott had just thrown the interception, and he was sent back on the field after the field goal. He responded by running 75 yards for a touch down. Perkins also had a good night and we need him. He had 83 yards on 16 carries, and add in the 21 receiving yards he had, and he had over 100 all purpose yards.
That is about the only thing you can really like from this game. I can’t really think of anything else.
The Bad Things
Oh boy, where to start.
Penalties: Mississippi State 9 for 72 yards
State was completely undisciplined in this game. There were two sacks that were wiped out because of Facemask penalties. We gave them a lot and Bowling Green just didn’t take advantage of it.
Passing stats: 19-25, 177 yards, o TD, 1 INT (Russell 12-14, 102 yards) (Prescott 7-11, 75 yards, 1 INT)
Neither quarterback threw the ball poorly per say, but the passing game was very pedestrian. The defense bailed out Prescott early in the game when he threw his interception in our own territory, but Bowling Green was only able to get a field goal. The problem is neither quarterback did anything with their arms to stand out. That means Mullen will keep running this two quarterback system that will get us nowhere.
2nd half scoring: BGSU 7, Mississippi State 0
If my math is right, we have scored 42 points in the second half. We average 7 points in the second half on the year. This is on the coaching staff. I have yet to figure out exactly what we do at halftime. We are lucky to have the three wins when we have averaged 7 points in the second half. This includes a missed 44 yard field goal by Devon Bell. It was apparent that Mullen has lost all faith in his kicker when with just over 4:00 remaining in the game, and a chance to at least force BGSU to score a TD by letting Bell kick a FG from about 25 yards out, Mullen elected to go for it on 4th and 3. Prescott came up about half a yard shy and almost allowed BGSU to get into field goal range.
The Most Important Stuff
The offense looks disjointed, and I continue to say that won’t be fixed until we pick a quarterback and stick to him. I personally believe that we need to go with Prescott, not because Russell isn’t capable of leading this team, but the coaches have no idea what to do with him. We are at our best when we establish the run, and the defense has to respect the running ability of Prescott on the read option. That simply isn’t there with Russell in at quarterback.
The secondary continues to look overmatched on just about every single play. These guys are young, but they are going to have to grow up quickly. We are getting pressure on the quarterback, but we gave some of our sacks right back with silly facemask penalties.
This may be the worst part. The students cleared out after half time.
I don’t know how related the two were, but the team seemed to have no energy when they took the field in the second half. It’s hard to get pumped up about a game when you walk out hoping to get a raucous crowd and the nosiest part of your fanbase has headed to the frat houses for Homecoming parties. That is just unacceptable and our students should be ashamed of this. When I was at State, I will admit that I left one time during a close game. In 2000, during the Arkansas game, I left after halftime. I don’t remember what the score was at the time because my brain was frozen. It was sleeting at that game and temps were around 20 degrees. State lost that game. I felt awful about leaving early and had a decent excuse. Students don’t have one here.
Crystal Ball Stuff
Kentucky is coming up on Thursday. Gotta do better than this or even the lowly Kentucky Wildcats could beat us if we play like this again.
More importantly, Mullen has to know that people are losing confidence in the direction of the program. He needed to have the guys come out and firing on all cylinders. Instead, we sputtered throughout the entire game. Bulldog fans have been holding out hope that we can get to bowl eligibility, but even with a win tonight, that is beginning to look more and more doubtful.